Breaking Barriers

The fol­low­ing excerpt is from an arti­cle by Easwaran that appeared in the Autumn 2006 issue of our quar­terly Blue Moun­tain journal:

“Not long ago it was con­sid­ered impos­si­ble for a human being to run a mile in less than four min­utes. The ‘four-minute mile’ was a built-in phys­i­o­log­i­cal lim­i­ta­tion, a kind of invis­i­ble wall that one could approach but never break through. And while every­body believed this, it was true. Peo­ple resigned them­selves to watch­ing the record creep up by hun­dredths of a sec­ond, harder and harder to beat as the magic wall got closer.

“And then some­body who didn’t believe in invis­i­ble walls – a young Eng­lish physi­cian, Roger Ban­nis­ter – ran faster. It was humanly pos­si­ble! Belief in a four-minute bar­rier col­lapsed. It took just six weeks for another run­ner to break Bannister’s record, and today, moth­ers and stu­dents go out on week­ends and run at speeds that experts once decreed beyond human reach. Today some say the real limit is a three-minute mile. But most peo­ple are unwill­ing to set lim­its at all, and records are bro­ken regularly. Continue reading